OREMUS: 22 June 2006

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Wed Jun 21 17:00:01 GMT 2006

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OREMUS for Thursday, June 22, 2006 
Alban, first Martyr of Britain, c.250

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, merciful God;
for your Son, our Messiah and Lord,
who did not turn aside from the path of suffering
and did not spare his disciples the prospect of rejection.
You call us through your Spirit
to abandon the security of the easy way
and to follow in Christ's footsteps towards the cross and true life.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever.

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 113

   Give praise, you servants of the Lord;*
 praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be blessed,*
 from this time forth for evermore.
>From the rising of the sun to its going down*
 let the name of the Lord be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations,*
 and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
   who sits enthroned on high,*
 but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth?
He takes up the weak out of the dust*
 and lifts up the poor from the ashes.
He sets them with the princes,*
 with the princes of his people.
He makes the woman of a childless house*
 to be a joyful mother of children.

Psalm 124

If the Lord had not been on our side,*
 let Israel now say;
If the Lord had not been on our side,*
 when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us up alive*
 in their fierce anger towards us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us*
 and the torrent gone over us;
Then would the raging waters*
 have gone right over us.
Blessed be the Lord!*
 he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
   from the snare of the fowler;*
 the snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,*
 the maker of heaven and earth.

A Song of Christ's Appearing (1 Timothy 3:16; 6:15-16)
Christ Jesus was revealed in the flesh
and vindicated in the spirit.

He was seen by angels
and proclaimed among the nations.

Believed in throughout the world,
he was taken up in glory.

This will be made manifest at the proper time
by the blessed and only Sovereign,

Who alone has immortality,
and dwells in unapproachable light.

To the King of kings and Lord of lords
be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

Psalm 148

   Praise the Lord from the heavens;*
 praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels of his;*
 praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon;*
 praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, heaven of heavens,*
 and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord;*
 for he commanded and they were created.
He made them stand fast for ever and ever;*
 he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,*
 you sea-monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and fog,*
 tempestuous wind, doing his will;
Mountains and all hills,*
 fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle,*
 creeping things and winged birds;
Kings of the earth and all peoples,*
 princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and maidens,*
 old and young together.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,*
 for his name only is exalted,
   his splendour is over earth and heaven.
He has raised up strength for his people
   and praise for all his loyal servants,*
 the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

READING [Ezra 5]:

Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo,
prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem,
in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then
Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set
out to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem; and with
them were the prophets of God, helping them.
At the same time Tattenai the governor of the province
Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their associates
came to them and spoke to them thus, 'Who gave you a
decree to build this house and to finish this structure?'
They also asked them this: 'What are the names of the men
who are building this building?' But the eye of their God
was upon the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop
them until a report reached Darius and then answer was
returned by letter in reply to it.
The copy of the letter that Tattenai the governor of the
province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and his
associates the envoys who were in the province Beyond the
River sent to King Darius; they sent him a report, in
which was written as follows: 'To Darius the king, all
peace! May it be known to the king that we went to the
province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is
being built of hewn stone, and timber is laid in the
walls; this work is being done diligently and prospers in
their hands. Then we spoke to those elders and asked
them, "Who gave you a decree to build this house and to
finish this structure?" We also asked them their names,
for your information, so that we might write down the
names of the men at their head. This was their reply to
us: "We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth,
and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years
ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. But
because our ancestors had angered the God of heaven, he
gave them into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of
Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and
carried away the people to Babylonia. However, King Cyrus
of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, made a decree
that this house of God should be rebuilt. Moreover, the
gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which
Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem
and had brought into the temple of Babylon, these King
Cyrus took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were
delivered to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made
governor. He said to him, 'Take these vessels; go and put
them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God
be rebuilt on its site.' Then this Sheshbazzar came and
laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem;
and from that time until now it has been under
construction, and it is not yet finished." And now, if it
seems good to the king, have a search made in the royal
archives there in Babylon, to see whether a decree was
issued by King Cyrus for the rebuilding of this house of
God in Jerusalem. Let the king send us his pleasure in
this matter.' 

For another Biblical reading,
Luke 12:1-4

Words: Reginald Heber, 1827
Tune: All Saints New 
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The Son of God goes forth to war,
a kingly crown to gain;
his blood red banner streams afar:
who follows in his train?
Who best can drink his cup of woe,
triumphant over pain,
who patient bears his cross below,
he follows in his train.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye
could pierce beyond the grave;
who saw his Master in the sky,
and called on him to save.
Like him, with pardon on his tongue,
in midst of mortal pain,
he prayed for them that did the wrong:
who follows in his train?

A glorious band, the chosen few
on whom the Spirit came;
twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
and mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant's brandished steel,
the lion's gory mane;
they bowed their heads the death to feel:
who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys,
the matron and the maid,
around the Savior's throne rejoice,
in robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heaven,
through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
to follow in their train.

The Benedictus (Morning), the 
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

God our Father,
you give us gifts that we may work together
in the service of your Son.

Bless those who lead,
that they may be firm in faith,
yet humble before you.
Jesus, Lord of the Church,
in your mercy hear us.

Bless Katherine, 
preparing for her new ministry, 
that she may know the grace of the Spirit;
and for her family, preparing to move to a new home.
Jesus, Lord of the Church,
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who teach,
that they may increase our understanding,
and be open to your word for them:
Jesus, Lord of the Church,
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who minister healing,
that they may bring wholeness to others,
yet know your healing in themselves:
Jesus, Lord of the Church,
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who work for 
the renewal of communion among Christians 
and for the healing of our divisions, that the world may believe:
Jesus, Lord of the Church,
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those through whom you speak,
that they may proclaim your word in power,
yet open their ears to your gentle whisper:
Jesus, Lord of the Church,
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who work in your world today
that in the complexity of their daily lives
they may live for you, fulfill your purposes
and seek your kingdom first.
Jesus, Lord of the Church,
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who feel they have no gifts or value
and those who are powerless in this world's eyes,
that they may share their experience
of the work of your Spirit.
Jesus, Lord of the Church,
in your mercy hear us.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light,
look favourably on your whole Church,
that wonderful and sacred mystery.
By the effectual working of your providence,
carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation.
Let the whole world see and know
that things which were cast down are being raised up,
and things which had grown old are being made new,
and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eternal Father,
when the Gospel of Christ first came to Britain
you gloriously confirmed the faith of Alban
by making him the first to win a martyr's crown: 
grant that, following his example,
in the fellowship of the saints 
we may worship you, the living God,
and give true witness to Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

In your great power,
transform all our fear
into faith and awe in your saving presence; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray),
(c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle, the opening thanksgiving and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer
from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary Edition_,
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing prayer are adapted from
prayers in _Opening Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language_.
Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

The second collect is from _Common Worship: Services and Prayers for
the Church of England_, material from which is included in this service is
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

There were probably Christians in the British Isles already in the first century.
However, Alban is the first recorded Christian martyr. The traditional date of
his death is 304, during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian; but
many scholars now date it as around 209, during the persecution under the
Emperor Septimius Severus. Alban was a pagan, and a soldier in the Roman
Army. He gave shelter to a Christian priest who was fleeing from arrest, and in
the next few days the two talked at length, and Alban became a Christian.
When officers came in search of the priest, Alban met them, dressed in the
priest's cloak, and they mistook him for the priest and arrested him. He refused
to renounce his new faith, and was beheaded. He thus became the first
Christian martyr in Britain. The second was the executioner who was to kill
him, but who heard his testimony and was so impressed that he became a
Christian on the spot, and refused to kill Alban. The third was the priest, who
when he learned that Alban had been arrested in his place, hurried to the court
in the hope of saving Alban by turning himself in. The place of their deaths is
near the site of St. Alban's Cathedral today. [James Kiefer]

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